London black cab firm calls in administrators

The maker of the world famous London black cab has called in administrators – putting the jobs of its 288 employees at risk.

Manganese Bronze announced the move in a statement, saying crisis talks to save the business had collapsed: “The board has therefore concluded that the group is no longer a going concern and has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators,” it said.

The embattled black cab-manufacturer, which has been reporting losses since 2008, had hoped that a deal could be reached with Chinese carmaker Geely – its second largest shareholder.

However, the firm said it remained “hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation” would provide the platform for a successful business in the future.

Problems had developed with a safety defect in the new models of the TX4 – as well as accounting issues following the introduction of a new IT system.

The company, based in Coventry in the West Midlands, launched an emergency recall of 400 TX4 Hackney carriages earlier this month after discovering a steering box fault.

The product recall on October 12 prompted a halt in sales, while shares were also suspended in the company. Since then, the financial position of the firm has remained unclear.

“A speedy resolution of the product recall remains the top priority for the group and will continue to do so throughout the administration process,” the company added.

Grant Thornton UK LLP will be handling the administration process.

The recall is the latest in a spate of issues that have plagued the taxi maker at a time when rival Eco City Vehicles, which sells the Mercedes Vito taxi, has been gaining market share.

Midlands manufacturer Russell Luckock said: “The demise of Manganese Bronze was not really a surprise, although the speed of this disaster has caught some British suppliers. The problems with the steering box was going to be very expensive.

“Geely might do a deal with the administrators, but the market is such that any supplier of this type of vehicle will find it a marginal operation.”

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